The CSU women’s water polo team had a rough weekend hosting the Hilton Invitational, finishing 2-3 and settling for third place, instead of the championship it was shooting for.
“We got off to a slow start here at the tournament,” CSU coach John Mattos said. “We thought we would be playing for a championship, not for third place. But that’s what we got and we’ll take it.”
The Rams started Sunday as the third seed due to their 1-2 record after the round robin play and fell in their first game against Marist, 11-7.
After losing to Marist, the Rams moved onto the consolation against UC-Santa Cruz, which CSU won 13-11 to secure third place.
“Santa Cruz is real scrappy and we were able to fast break on them, and we finally got shots to go down,” Mattos said.
Freshman Ali Pavlik, who recorded her second hat trick of the weekend in the finale, not only thought this was her best game of the tournament, but that it was the best game for the entire team.
“I started out kind of slow and finally I was able to pick it up this game,” Pavlik said. “As a team we pulled it all together, and we have finally found the missing piece, and we’re all on the same page with each other.”
Pavlik and freshamn Andrea Victoria each scored four goals in the consolation game, senior Annie Quinn and Sarah Ostling Ostling each added two and freshman Alexandra Eason scored for the first time as a collegiate.
“Andrea (Victoria) finally got some scores,” Mattos said. “It is important for her to get off the bench and contribute and keep her confidence up.”
The bench contributed much of the second half and gave Mattos a better look at what it is capable of.
“It was good to play some other kids off of our bench. It is really important to get them some playing time because they are instrumental in keeping our first-team in shape,” Mattos said.
CSU opened the tournament Saturday morning against the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Santa Cruz was still accustomed to Pacific Time and had a hard time getting ready for the 8 a.m. start. The Rams defeated the Slugs 12-9, with Pavlik and Quinn each recording a hat trick.
Junior Emily Chambers and sophomore Sarah Ostling both scored twice while sophomore Shannon Kohl and senior Emily McCullough each added one to round out the scoring.
“Emily McCullough is our quiet leader,” Mattos said. “She makes things happen on defense and gets a lot of steals; she is really important to our team.”
The next game pitted the Rams against the Red Foxes of Marist University, which was won by Marist, 11-5.
Sophomore goalkeeper Krystyna McCright struggled against Marist and was benched for the following game against Bucknell.
With freshman Kayley Provow manning the net, the Rams rebounded from their loss to Marist and turned in an inspired performance against Bucknell. They fell short however, losing 12-9.
Bucknell finally broke a tie and pulled ahead in the fourth quarter, pouring on five goals to CSU’s two.
“I think we played pretty tough, but of course we still have things to work on,” senior Emily McCullough said.
McCullough scored one goal while Chambers registered another hat trick and Quinn added two more.
Bucknell went on to win the tournament on Sunday, defeating Marist 12-8 in the championship game. The Bisons went 5-0 in the tournament.
“The tournament was successful,” Mattos said. “Talking to the other teams, they had a good time and plan on coming back next year.”
CSU’s record after the invite stands at 2-8, with a 2-1 conference record.
The team will travel to Santa Cruz, Calif., on Feb. 29 for the Santa Cruz Slugfest Tournament, where they will face a number of fellow teams in the Western Water Polo Association, including Santa Cruz again as well as No. 19 Santa Clara.